Unite the right meeting with Alberta conservatives held behind closed doors
Familiar faces like Jonathan Denis, Mike Ellis and Dave Rutherford attend community hall meeting
Depending on who you asked, conservatives were gathered at the Acadia Rec Centre on Tuesday night for either a constituency meeting, or for a discussion on uniting the right in Alberta — or both.
The gathering included some familiar faces, like former PC cabinet minister Jonathan Denis, Calgary West PC MLA Mike Ellis, as well as former radio host Dave Rutherford, who was representing the Alberta Prosperity Fund.
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The latter organization is self described as a super PAC that "intends to raise and expend voluntary contributions in support of voter education, identification, persuasion and mobilization to ensure that Alberta remains the best place in Canada to live, work and do business," according to its website.
"We want to unify, or try to unify the conservative vote, some common sense thinking in this province, and so we are trying to facilitate that," said Rutherford.
"We're going to ask Albertans what they want. Do they want to unify the conservative parties in Alberta? Do they want to amalgamate them? Do they want to go under one or the other? This really is a reach out."
'Listen to the people'
Ellis, who was first elected in a byelection in 2014, said he was just there to listen to what constituents had to say.
"I was asked by a friend, someone that I know in the PC party that is part of the Calgary Acadia constituency, that they want to have a discussion about the state of Alberta and conservatism and just going forward," he said.
"So they asked me if I would attend and listen to the people."
He said media would not be allowed into the meeting because "I think people just want to be able to talk freely."
'Defeat the NDP'
Chad Barber, standing beside a piece of paper taped to the wall that read "We are Albertans. We are conservatives. Together, we can earn back Alberta," is one of the people Ellis came to listen to.
Barber said there was a "wide distribution of emails going out about conservatives meeting here about the potential of working together with other conservative parties, to look at ways of defeating the NDP government in three years."
He said "we need to do whatever we can to defeat the NDP" in the next election.
There are ongoing conversations about uniting the right in the province, with the Wildrose openly promoting the concept and interim federal Conservative leader Rona Ambrose saying she would "do anything" to make it happen.
PC interim leader Ric McIver has been cool to the idea.